Build a Fort, Burn it Down

you may not think it to look at my work but Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of my art heroes. when i was in college, my color theory teacher couldn't think of a better way to say "loosen up." so, she gave me basquiat's name like a prescription. "you need to look at his work." she was right. in my imagination, basquiat delivered my artistic license by hand. i wore his influence less and less heavily over the years* but the point of his lessons remain: you can draw whatever you want. you can draw however you want. it doesn't have to make sense. it doesn't even have to be good. it just has to be you.

a retrospective of basquiat's work is touring the country this year. i was fortunate enough to see it at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. What set the MOCA show apart was the premiere of a film interview, A Conversation with Jean-Michel Basquiat. it played beneath the gallery in a lovely couch-filled room at the bottom of a stair well. This portrait was drawn from the film.

* basquiat's crown remains a favorite letter in my alphabet. i sneak it into all the fonts that i design. you can even find one on this page.

© 2005 rama hughes